Want to take a trip back in time and experience what Houston was like in the 1950s from the eyes of River Oaks socialites? Spoiler: it doesn’t seem much different from today. Lavish parties, Lamar high school drama, oil money out the wazoo. Anton DiSclafani details all the drama in her newest book The After Party.
Set in the mansions of River Oaks, the clubs of downtown Houston, the beach shores of Galveston, and the hallways of Lamar High School, DiSclafani paints an extravagant picture of what it must have been to be rich AF in the 1950s. Having worked downtown Houston for a number of years, I obsess over the old Esperson building filled with wildcatters searching for the next great land deal, the Rice Hotel where Kennedy stayed the week before he got shot, and historic bars in Market Square that date back to the 1800s. I’m a bit of a history nerd and obsessed about Houston and would have liked to seen more of that in the book, but DiSclafani does a pretty good job of highlighting some of the places where socialites were known to gather-like the Shamrock Hotel that no longer exists and the Houston Club that is very much still a staple to the oil and gas entertaining scene.
The plot of the book follows two girls, Joan and Cece, who grew up together in Houston. Joan is the wild, free spirit who parties with strange men who toast with the most expensive bottles of champagne to the crack of dawn. Meanwhile Cece follows the more conservative, traditional route of the 1950s, marries young and has a toddler. Bound together like sisters through a series of dark secrets, Joan and Cece seem inseparable until Joan disappears. And then comes back. And then disappears again. The book gets a bit dark and emotional at times. And DiSclafani develops the characters in such a way that you get so frustrated, yet simultaneously attached to them and their crazy decisions that you can’t stop reading. I finished the whole thing on a plane ride.
The drama will make you want to reach for a strong glass of scotch (that’s something they drank in the 1950s right?) or champagne out of a glass like this (or tbh the bottle).
Intrigued? Get it here on Amazon. It’s the perfect read for your next book club meeting (tips to start a book club here!), your pool read, or a present for your favorite Houston native who thrives on drama.